When Japanese pitching/slugging sensation Shohei Ohtani became the central story this past winter in the MLB Hot Stove season, it was easy to get caught up in the extreme hype that accompanied this very accomplished but unusual player. After all, it is not everyday you get a power pitcher who carried ace-level stuff and then combined that with a slugging ability that portended to big power to be had. Ohtani also became a puzzle for yearly fantasy baseball leagues in the sense that he was made into two "different" players, with one being a hitter and one being a pitcher that required two separate draft picks. In terms of where yours truly stood, I was not very bullish on Ohtani for the simple fact that his draft price was going to be prohibitive and the recent string of Japanese pitchers coming over to the States was filled with never-ending Tommy John cases due to the heavy workloads while such players took part in Far East leagues. Fast forward to present day and Ohtani has realized the fears I had concerning him and on multiple levels. For one thing, Ohtani predictably came down with elbow trouble and soon was diagnosed with a dreaded partially torn UCL. That development has put his pitching completely on hold for now and makes any one pitch he may eventually throw the one that could finish his season for good.
On the hitting side, Ohtani has come back from the DL to be a semi-regular outfielder or DH but his numbers there are beginning to look shaky as his average is down to .274 as his K/9 rises to 26.8. While Ohtani draws walks (11.1 BB/9), his overall game has become mostly centered on power and on at least that front, he has been decent with 7 home runs in 153 at-bats. Be that as it may, Ohtani is really just a backup outfielder in fantasy baseball leagues and his pitching could be done for awhile given the elbow woes. When you put it all together, Ohtani has been a decent-sized disappointment. While his pitching was very impressive before the elbow trouble, the price he cost at the draft does not look like money well spent.